Peeing while running is more common than one might think. But even so, if it has happened to you, it probably feels a bit isolating. Running incontinence occurs for a variety of different reasons, but as many as 1 in 3 women experience incontinence at some point in their life.
Understanding exactly what is causing you to pee while you run, as well as incorporating a few simple strategies, will help you reduce or even fix bladder leakage while running.
Why do I pee when I run?
Incontinence when running is usually grouped into the category of stress urinary continence. This refers to the loss of bladder control when laughing, sneezing, coughing, or during physical activity such as running.
There are a number of different causes for this type of incontinence, but luckily, nearly all can be fixed or improved relatively easily.
Here some reasons you might find yourself peeing while running.
- Weak pelvic floor
- Consumption of bladder irritating foods
- Full bladder
- High caffeine intake
If you find yourself struggling with consistently peeing your pants while running, there might be a combination of causes for your incontinence. Most commonly, women experience running incontinence due to insufficient pelvic floor strength.
Does running cause incontinence?
Discovering that you pee when you run might feel isolating, but if you ever talk about it, you’ll likely find that many runners have the same struggle. It can begin to seem so common that some wonder if running can actually cause incontinence.
Luckily, the answer is no. But although running is certainly not the cause of your bladder leakage, it can exacerbate the problem and bring out more leaks.
The physical movement and impact of running highlights the weakness of our pelvic floor. It increases the stress on our pelvic region, displaying any lack of strength we have in the area. A full bladder or irritating foods might be too much for our pelvic floor to handle once running is added to the equation.
How do I stop peeing while running?
Usually, all it takes is leaking urine while running one time to make us decide that we don’t want it to happen again. Dealing with this problem is incredibly inconvenient, frustrating, and downright embarrassing.
The pelvic floor is a group of muscles, tissues and ligaments that support the pelvis. Women often find themselves peeing while running after childbirth due to the stress placed on these muscles during birth. However, it is possible to still struggling with bladder leakage even years afterwards.
Strengthening the pelvic floor is similar to strengthening any other region of the body. To do so, you’ll need to spend time practicing targeted exercises to engage these muscles. Kegels are the most common exercise involved with building pelvic floor strength.
7 Tips to Avoid Peeing While Running
“… I pee when I run”.
It is understandably embarrassing to admit that you have experienced bladder leakage while running. However, admitting and accepting the fact are the first steps to creating a plan to get rid of the problem.
Many women are so embarrassed to admit they struggle that they continue peeing while running for years after the problem begins. But luckily, if you’re willing to face the problem head on, it’s actually fairly easy to solve. Here are a few ways to reduce or completely solve running incontinence.
Pelvic floor strengthening
If you only focus on one thing prevent incontinence when running, let it be this: strengthen your pelvic floor. We’ve heard it said time and time again, and yet so many of us fail to spend time targeting these muscles.
Try adding just 5 – 10 minutes of Kegel exercises to your daily routine. Begin by sitting upright or lying down on your back and relaxing your muscles. As you exhale, tighten your pelvic floor, as if you were zipping up your lower core.
Continue to engage the muscles throughout the exhale, lifting the pelvic floor as if it were an elevator going up. As you inhale, relax the muscles and continue to repeat during each exhale.
Focus on breathing
Pelvic floor exercises are much more effective when coordinated with breathing. As you practice Kegels, be sure to coordinate the contraction with your breathing.
When you get more advanced, you can try incorporating Kegels while moving. Marching, side stepping and even slow running intensify the effort required for a contraction during these exercises.
Adjust running form
Another strategy that can help reduce the number of times you experience peeing while running is to focus on your running form. Small adjustments can help reduce the impact of each step, thus making it easier for your pelvic floor to remain engaged and hold your bladder.
These small adjustments will set your body up to prevent bladder leakage while running as much as possible.
Find hip or glute imbalances
It’s certainly important to strengthen the pelvic floor, but also important to note that the surrounding regions play a role in this strength as well. Strong hips and glutes can support the pelvic floor to help minimize any impact it experiences during a run.
Peeing while running can be reduced by targeting muscle imbalances in the hips or glutes, and strengthening the core and back. Try adding some hip, glute and core exercises to your training routine to improve the strength of your entire pelvic region.
Try bladder training
When the pelvic floor is weak, even a moderately full bladder can be too much for it to handle during exercise. If you pee when you run even without a full bladder, it might be beneficial to try bladder training.
Slowly and over time, try increasing the amount of liquid you drink or reducing the number of times you empty your bladder. If you have success at a certain level of fullness for a few days in a row, try extending it the next day.
Gradually, you’ll notice that you are able to hold your bladder for longer periods of time. As your bladder control increases, you’ll be less likely to experience incontinence while running.
Evaluate your pre-run fuel
Something that we don’t normally consider to be a trigger for the bladder is solid foods. However, certain types of foods can be particularly irritating to the bladder and might increase the likelihood of peeing while running.
Try to avoid consuming bladder irritating foods in the hours before a run. Foods with caffeine, carbonation, artificial sweeteners, or those that are particularly acidic or spicy can trigger a bladder leak.
Avoiding these types of foods will help create the optimal environment for your bladder, making it less likely that you’ll experience bladder leakage while running.
Prepare ahead of time
Even once you’ve begun the process of reducing running incontinence, remember that you’ll still experience leaks along the way.
Peeing while running isn’t anything that can be solved in a day. Just like training or any type of strengthening, it takes time and consistency before you see results.
If you pee when you run, preparing ahead of time and planning for an accident can help ease your anxiety and keep you comfortable during a run. Try wearing a pad or absorbent underwear for speed workouts or long runs during which you’re more likely to experience leaks.
If you need to pee when you run frequently, something as simple (and sometimes even a little gross) as bringing a cup with you can help ease your mind. Knowing that you have a back up plan in case of emergency will help you run more care-free.
Regardless of whether you’re able to completely rid the problem or only make small improvements, it’s important to remember that you are not alone. 1 in 3 women experience stress urinary incontinence, and so many runners out there can relate. Be patient, diligent and above all, remember that with time, it will get better.